The Catholic Church will hold its annual celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life on February 2, 2021, and in parishes over the weekend of February 6-7. This event is a special time for individual parishes and the greater Church to celebrate the gift of consecrated life and pray for men and women discerning a consecrated vocation.
Instituted by St. Pope John Paul II in 1997, World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life is celebrated in conjunction with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day, which commemorates through the blessing and lighting of candles that Christ is the light of the world. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples.
Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations invites the faithful to renew their gratitude to Christ for the gift of consecrated life. “The faithful witness of religious and other consecrated men and women living out their vocation is powerful. By their prayers and apostolates, those in consecrated life provide for us an example of Christ’s merciful love, and especially during these uncertain and difficult times, they point us to the reality that Christ is our ultimate goal.”
As it does every year, the CCLV Committee commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) to conduct a survey of the religious Profession Class of 2020. The survey polled women and men religious who professed perpetual vows in 2020 in a religious congregation, province or monastery based in the United States. CARA received a response from 549 of 747 major superiors for an overall response rate of 73 percent among religious institutes. Of the 172 identified men and women religious who professed perpetual vows in 2020, 55 sisters and nuns and 57 brothers and priests responded to the survey for an overall response rate of 65 percent.
Some of the major findings of the report are:
- On average, responding religious report that they were 19 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life.
- The average age of responding religious of the Profession Class of 2019 is 38. Half of the responding religious are age 34 or younger. The youngest is 24 and the oldest is 71.
- Seven in ten (71 percent) responding religious report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian, European American, or white. One in ten (13 percent) identifies as Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian. Fewer than one in ten identifies as African/African American/black (seven percent) and one in twenty (five percent) identifies as Hispanic/Latino(a).
- Three-fourths of responding religious (76 percent) were born in the United States. Of those born outside the United States, the most common country of origin is Vietnam.
- On average, the respondents who were born outside the United States were 24 years old when they first came to the United States and lived here for 13 years before perpetual profession.
- Nine in ten (89 percent) responding religious report that someone encouraged them to consider a vocation to religious life. Respondents are less likely to report that they received encouragement from their family members than from parish priests, friends, or from a religious sister or brother.
- Three-fourths (74 percent) of the Profession Class of 2020 have more than one sibling. A quarter (25 percent) has one brother or sister. A third (35 percent) report having two or three siblings. Two-fifths (39 percent) have four or more siblings.
- Three-quarters of the respondents (75 percent) are from families where both parents are Catholic. Just over four in five (84 percent) have been Catholic since birth. Among the 16 percent of respondents who became Catholic later in life, the average age at which they entered the Church was 20 years old.
- Nearly half of the responding religious (45 percent) attended a Catholic elementary school, which is higher than that for all Catholic adults in the United States (16 percent). These respondents are also more likely than other U.S. Catholics to have attended a Catholic high school (38 of responding religious, compared to eight percent of U.S. adult Catholics) and much more likely to have attended a Catholic college (38 percent of responding religious, compared to five percent of U.S. adult Catholics).
The entire CARA survey, information on the members of Profession Class of 2020, Prayers of the Faithful, and a bulletin quote for World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, can be accessed at: Profession Classes | USCCB.
Bishop Felipe Estévez will give a talk via Zoom to all religious sisters of the Diocese of St. Augustine on Saturday, Feb. 6 in honor of World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life.
“We religious are celebrating our love for Christ, asking prayers to continue to faithfully answer His call with open minds and hearts,” said Sister Victora Will of the Sisters of Notre Dame, Ex Offio for the Commission for Religious for the diocese. “As Pope Francis said, ‘This then is the Consecrated Life: praise which gives joy to God’s people, prophetic vision that reveals what counts.'”